Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sorci Castle and Resturant

I know how excited you are to read of our gluttonous habit of eating and then gloat about it to all of you, but at the same time, those of you who are making up your mind whether to travel to Italy, would like to know what the food is like. You do have to eat; you can't possibly just come to Italy for it's art, warm hospitality, churches, museums and pizza/panini cafes, but surely one of the reasons to be in Italy is for its food.

About 5 minutes from the villa there's a 12 century castle (Castello di Sorci) that has been converted to a restaurant operated as a country inn where you sit at rather long tables and devour, oops, savor, the many dishes from a fixed priced menu. I'll save the price part till the last. We arrived soon after 12 and left at about 2:40. But before describing the details of our lunch, here's the story about the Castle. I didn't write it, but it's one that has been circulating for ages.

"Deep in the depths of Tuscany, not too far from a delightful little place called Anghiari, which is on the border with Umbria, there is the hauntingly interesting restaurant the Locanda al Castello di Sorci.
Now, this restaurant, which seems to have a good reputation for its culinary expertise incidentally, has a little extra on its menu, in the form of the ghost of a certain Baldaccio d’Anghiari, who used to own the castle.

Apparently, Baldaccio, when he is out on his haunting rounds, has been known to have caused the restaurant’s patrons to flee their tables in utter terror – without paying, probably! Could it be that this Baldaccio is the spirit of a discontented customer? Someone who choked himself away from this world on a huge glob of Fiorentina steak?

Sorci Castle and Resturant

No, Baldaccio hails from an era long before part of his former home was turned into the Locanda al Castello di Sorci eatery. Indeed, this chap was ambushed and assassinated by his enemies many moons ago in September 1441, though he was not killed in Castello di Sorci from what I’ve understood. The headless body of Baldaccio was then thrown out of a window down into a Piazza della Signoria.

The clattering of armor announces this ghouls approach, and he makes a full appearance around midnight on the September anniversary of his murder. On occasions, the sound of poor Baldaccio’s armor is reduced to nothing more than a mere tinkling, which can be heard throughout the year.

The existence of this ghost, and the quality of the food, have turned this location into something of an attraction, and actors, politicians and other celebrities frequent the place. Some scenes from the the film ‘Non ci resta che piangere’ – ‘All we can do is cry’, with Roberto Benigni e Massimo Troisi, were set in the castle.

So, should you long for an eating experience with a difference, why not head for the Locanda al Castello di Sorci restaurant (The site is partially in English), near Anghiari? Anghiari, by the way, is very close to Citta del Castello in Umbria.

Could turn out to be quite an experience! If you find yourself there around midnight in September, brace yourself with a good grappa – you never know what might happen…

I wonder if the ghost’s appearance is reflected in the service charge, when he appears, that is."

It's an interesting tale, so I guess we will need to return in September - why not?

Lunch began with an array of appetizers from chicken liver to various salamis, to tomato-topped toasted bread to a mayonnaise and olive mixture, also on a piece of bread. Wine is automatically placed on the table as is water - either frizzante (with bubbles) or naturale.

The second course was a rice dish, very much like a risotto, with a mild freshly prepared tomato sauce and parmigiana cheese. The flavor is stimulated with the cheese. More wine. The waiter came by to asked if we wanted more risotto. No thanks

Believing that the rice served as the "pasta" dish or the primo piatto, we ate as much, perhaps too much, of the rice dish. Wow! Were we wrong.

The third dish was Tagliatelle with another tomato sauce, light and tasty, but quite different from the one used on the rice. The strands were about two feet long, a few dropped (I was serving) and I have a few spots on a clean white shirt - from the collar to the tummy. More wine. The waiter returned asking if we wanted more pasta. No thanks. I know a few of you who would not resist another helping or two. One or two of you will be coming next month. You know who you are.

The fourth dish was a mixed grill chicken, pork and sausage links and also a salad - got to have our greens. More wine and water. The waiter returned to ask if we wanted more of the mixed grill. We indicated more maiale - pork. Moments later he returned with more meat. Each of the pieces was delicious, cooked perfectly.

The table was cleared and out came the Vin Santo with a cake similar to a pound cake, but a bit coarser. Vin Santo is a sweet wine. Some contain more alcohol than others, this one did, but they are all good. The object is to dip the cake (and sometimes biscotti) into the wine, hopefully without it breaking up into the wine. I wasn't very successful, but it gave me the reason to add more Vin Santo to the glass.

This was followed by a coffee of your choice.

The day, dear friends, was perfect. Our divine Father opened up the skies and blessed us with lots of sun that filtered down to add to our vitamin-D deficient bodies. The setting at the castle was also ideal. We had a table overlooking the countryside. It is very informal and we look forward to taking some of our guests there for a lunch.

Well, the surprise was the bill. We were expecting to pay, because of the location, setting and quantities of food, a healthy amount, but when the bill came and it said 21 euros each, we were astonished to say the least, because most dinners so far have been above 25 euros per person - with wine and dessert. 21 Euros is about $26. Bear in mind that it included the wine - we could have had another bottle and more food, if our bodies could have consumed it, alas, we were sated.

We're now sitting by the pool enjoying the remaining rays of sunshine. It's 3:30 our time and the setting is thoroughly beautiful and relaxing.

Two guests leave tomorrow and two arrive. From tomorrow till we leave here on 17 July, we will enjoy family and friends. We look forward to them all.

Best to all,

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